Buttermilk Rusks

Buttermilk Rusks

Ever since I was a child I loved home-made buttermilk rusks.  South African’s just love to dip one into their tea or coffee – many times with a spoon ready to scoop up the piece that will inevitably fall into the cup. If you haven’t come across them yet, consider them the more generous, Tannie Evita version of Italian Biscotti.  My mother bakes them religiously to this day and even though I prefer hers, it’s really easy and fun to make a batch.

It’s a relatively quick process, excluding the drying time once baked and cut.

This is a basic recipe that can be dressed up with the addition of your favorite ingredients. Just add in 500 ml of dry ingredients such as nuts, muesli, dried raisins, cranberries or sultanas etc.

Basic buttermilk rusk recipe


750g softened butter
1kg caster sugar
6 large free range eggs, beaten
3kg self-raising flour
60ml baking powder
1L buttermilk


Cream butter and sugar until thoroughly whipped and pale in color. Add in eggs a little at a time until incorporated. Whisk in buttermilk.
Sift flour and baking powder and fold into wet mixture. It’s going to be really sticky to start but just keep kneading the mixture.
When the mixture forms a dough spread it out on your work surface.  Simply fold the dough over and into the 500gram of added ingredients until you have a nice soft velvety dough. If you prefer plain buttermilk rusks, simply omit the extras.
At this point, you can divide the dough into balls the size of a plum and place them nice and tight together into a loaf pan prepared with non-stick spray. I suppose you can say this is the traditional way of doing it, but if you just push the dough into the pans it won’t make a difference.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until cooked. A knife will come out clean.
Allow the loaves to cool. They are fairly fragile so be careful when turning them out of the pans.
Once cooled cut into dunking sized pieces, and dry overnight in the oven warming door or in a cool oven with the door kept slightly open. A wooden spoon will work well for this.

In the morning, brew a nice cup of tea and get ready to dunk a delicious home-made buttermilk rusk.

Baker’s note:

Butter is almost always better for baking, but it is an expensive ingredient.  When I don’t use butter I have a preference for Stork Bake blocks.   It will work very well in this recipe.

Unless otherwise stated I always use caster sugar for baking, but normal granulated sugar can be used as well for this recipe if you have it on hand already.

If you don’t have self-raising flour,  but you do have flour and baking powder you can mix your own self-raising flour by following this ratio:  1 cake flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder mixed together thoroughly.   1 cup of flour weighs 130 grams.

Mix your own buttermilk replacement by adding 30ml of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to your milk.  Leave to curdle for about 30 minutes and use as directed by the recipe.

Free-range eggs are a better choice ethically, therefore, all my recipes will call for free-range.

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